Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro’ crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.

–Alfred Lord Tennyson

(h/t Jennifer Ohop)

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Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

5 thoughts on “Dragon-fly”

  1. I remember reading a parable about dragonflies in a Nobel laureate’s speech some fifty or so years ago. He talked about a group of dragonfly eggs attached to a reed underwater, and them watching egg after egg detach and rise to the surface. And they each said to the others, “I don’t know what’s on the other side of that surface, but when I go up there, I’ll come back and tell you what I’ve seen.” And one by one they rise to the surface, cast away their cases and fly off.

    Can anyone find the original? I believe that it was an Indian Nobelist, perhaps in a physical science.

  2. If I had a time machine, the creature I would most like to see isn't a dinosaur or a trilobite but the two-foot Meganeura dragonflies of the Carboniferous.

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